Five minutes with Kyoko Nakayoshi

Never heard of Kyoko Nakayoshi? You will soon! She’s the knitting mastermind behind the lovely Cotton & Cloud shop, which is home to all sorts of deliciously contemporary patterns. I’ve chosen one of her designs to fulfil my knitting-a-Christmas-jumper-by-Christmas ambitions (which sadly have had to be pushed back till 2013 because it took me much longer to learn to knit than anticipated… shucks!), so thought I’d give her a quick call to find out more about her and her mad knitting skills. Read on!

Black Cat Originals (BCO): How did you get into knitting?

Kyoko Nakayoshi (KN): My first encounter with knitting as a child (I was seven at the time) was with this Japanese craft TV channel. The show was about knitting a sweater or something and at that moment, I fell in love with the craft. My grandma then taught me to knit. When I came to the live in the UK, my matron at my boarding school taught me how to read English knitting patterns. I learnt the rest by reading books and using my own imagination.

BCO: What appeals to you most about it?

KN: It’s so therapeutic to sit and knit. I love the texture of the fibre and feeling the yarn and imagining the whole process of shearing the animal to the actual knitting of the yarn.

BCO: What’s your favourite style?

KN: My favourite is cable, short row and making up some random techniques. I love creating structures and shapes to the flat piece of knitted fabric.

BCO: Why the name Cotton & Cloud?

KN: The name Cotton & Cloud comes from two of my cats who I love so much. They are called Kumo and Wata, which mean “cloud” and “cotton” in Japanese, respectively.

BCO: What’s your most popular pattern?

KN: The cable yoke jacket is by far the most popular. I love it (and keep making for my sisters’ and friends’ kids) and everyone loves it too. I am so thankful to those who have made such wonderful comments on Ravelry.

BCO: What was your inspiration for the chunky snowflake cardigan?

KN: It’s in an urban style but keeping the traditional snowflake motif. I had quite a few friends of mine who just love this kind of style and kept asking me if I would design something like this.

BCO: I’m a beginner knitter – will I be able to make this?

KN: It might be a little challenging for a beginner. But even if you are an beginner knitter who has done some Fair Isle knitting, then this should be really fun to do. The success of knitting a garment is gauge. So no rush, but keep to the right tension.

BCO: How long should it take?

KN: It depends on how fast you knit. The best way to do it is to decide how much you want to knit each day or week and keep to the schedule. I often do the same when I am working on a tight deadline.

BCO: How much should it cost?

KN: The sample garment is knitted using Jamieson’s of Shetland Heather yarn. It’s a great yarn and not too expensive either. It works well with Fair Isle with the right drape and texture. So I highly recommend their yarn. I love knitting with Jamieson’s of Shetland Heather!

BCO: Why do you think Fair Isle is so popular right now?

KN: It’s the combination of colours that you can choose anyway you like. On a simple stocking stitch fabric, to have such an interesting pattern, it is amazing. I think that is why people love Fair Isle as much as the process of knitting.

BCO: Any advice for me when knitting the cardigan?

KN: Keep to the right tension provided. For Fair Isle, it is better to have a slightly looser running yarn at the back than too tight if you are not used to knitting Fair Isle.

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